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Guest Blogger Parviz Tarikhi: Manned Space Flight Mission of Iran

Parviz Tarikhi ( is a space science and technology specialist in Iran majoring in radar remote sensing since 1994. He holds a PhD degree in physics focusing on microwave remote sensing. He has been involved with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS) since 2000, including as Second Vice-Chair and Rapporteur in 2004-06 of the committee bureau. Since 2001 he has co-chaired Action Team number 1 of UNISPACE-III with the mission ‘to develop a comprehensive worldwide environmental monitoring strategy’. From 2004-07 he led the Office for Specialized International Cooperation of the Iranian Space Agency. He is also a freelance journalist and technical writer who has made in the meantime years of research and study on the developments and status of space science and technology with a particular focus on Iran.

In recent times the idea of sending a human to space is brought up frequently by the top authorities in Iran. In the opening remarks of the 10th Conference of the Iranian Aerospace Society held on 1-3 March 2011 in Tarbiat Modarres University [this university’s main task is the education and breeding the tutors and educators to teach in the universities of Iran] of Tehran believing that the space power [of each country] is realized when it succeeds to send human to space the head of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA), Hamid Fazeli stated that only three countries around the world had prospered to attain this capability. He added that based on the I. R. President’s order a human should be sent to space by 2021 and in this connection the studies and programs for sending human to space and Moon had been started. ‘In the framework of the first Five-Year program of sending human to space we plan to send and retrieve an astronaut to the height of sub-200 kilometres’, he announced. The head of the space agency related the success of the plan for sending human to space to the necessary concentrated financial state supports to the agency. [1]

The background of Iran’s manned space flight program goes to two decades ago. The country revealed its intension for sending a human to space on 21 June 1990 in course of the summit of the presidents of the date of Iran and the Soviet Union. Both the countries agreed to make joint Soviet-Iranian manned flights to the Mir space station. Dissolution of the Soviet Union soon after in 1991 caused the interruption of the agreement. [2] However in November 2005 the authorities of ISA declared a plan for manned space flight and the plans for the development of a spacecraft and a space laboratory as well. On 20 August 2008, the president of the space agency announced the country’s plan to launch a manned mission into space within a decade for which the goal was divulged to be in order to make Iran the leading space power of the region by 2021. [3]

Iran’s continued intention to benefit the experience and achievements of the avant-garde space faring countries such as the Russian Federation in the framework of joint manned space flights and implementing research projects in space is promising and is the indication of the country’s interest in the international cooperation in space arena that is worth to be strengthened and supported. Such the idea was emphasized as instance during the meeting for celebrating the International Astronaut Day on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the human flight to space that was held at the headquarters of ISA in Tehran on Tuesday 12 April 2011. In the meeting the president of the space agency reiterated readiness of Iran for bilateral cooperation due to the long-term involvement of ISA in the activities of peaceful uses of space technology. As the ad-hoc invitee to that meeting, Alexander Sadovnikov, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Iran stated that the cooperation between Iran and Russian Federation in space technology that was started 20 years ago has ever been continued despite of some problems. He added, ‘Iran’s recent successes in the field of scientific space research shows that not only the Iranian astronauts will be sent to space in the near future but also the Iranian space technologies in line with the technologies of other space faring nations will be used.’ He foresaw that the Iranian and Russian astronauts could conduct joint research projects, and that both the countries are interested in establishing a scientific and technical cooperation atmosphere in the field of space free of political considerations. [4, 5] ‘It would not be the matter of my surprise if I witness that someday in the International Space Station the Iranian scientists would work and research along with the scientists of the other nations,’ he pointed out. [6]

The space endeavor of each country in general and the plans for life in space in particular would be of great value and effectiveness if free of the tropism of supremacy in the use of space and the related technologies it is managed to enjoy the goal of exploring the universe, raising the quality of life, prosperity, welfare and the sustainable development of the nation.


[1] ISA’s News Archive (Persian Version): Sending Iranian astronaut to sub-200 km orbit, Iranian Space Agency- Tehran, 1 March 2011, (accessed 25 April 2011)

[2]Wikipedia: Iranian Space Agency, (accessed 25 April 2011)

[3] Harvey, Brian; Smid, Henk; Pirard, Theo: Emerging Space Powers; the New Space Programs of Asia, the Middle East, and South America, Springer/Praxis, February 2010, pp. 306-308

[4] Mehr News archive (Persian Version): The cooperation between Iran and Russia in space science/ Iranians are getting powerful in space science, Tehran, 12 April 2011, (accessed 28 April 2011)

[5]RIA NOVOSTI-Russian News & Information Agency (Persian Version): The International Astronaut Day was held in Iran, Moscow, 12 April 2011, (accessed 25 April 2011)

[6] ISA’s News Archive (Persian Version): The ceremony for celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first human in space, Iranian Space Agency- Tehran, 12 April 2011, (accessed 28 April 2011)